Coronavirus Moves Teachers And Students Online

Lauren Mitchell, Editor-In-Chief

What started out as a virus that indirectly affected students and became a meme due to its name, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has left students learning online after the pandemic’s spread to the U.S., where schools and businesses have shut down for social distancing. 

Starting March 18th, Agua Fria initiated their online learning using platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts for lectures and Q&A time. Teachers, especially now, have utilized their Google Classrooms with daily posts for attendance and assignments. 

This has been a drastic change for students and teachers who are habituated to their physical classrooms and those learning routines. The struggles for students are different than those of the teachers, who worry that some students won’t prioritize. 

“Time management and holding yourself accountable for school work and your own learning can be difficult to do,” Mrs. Leon, AP Lang and English III teacher, said. “Students are really getting a taste of what college life is like, I think.”

Similar to a precursor to adulthood, this has become an opportunity for students to learn to prioritize and make their own schedules that work for them. Students are given the choice of when and how they decide to tackle the school work, and it’s not teachers holding their hands to do their work. Now is the time of responsibility for students to rise up and prioritize their learning without the force of actually attending. 

Early on with this new learning circumstance, “Some are rising to the challenge of this new normal and pushing themselves just as they did before,” Mr. Boothman, an Honors Pre-calc and AP Calculus teacher at Agua Fria said. “Some are viewing this as some sort of extended break and not engaging with their teachers and lessons.”

For senior Justin Perez, the online school has been easy because “the hours are flexible and allow me to have extra time to do my work.” However, with that, Justin said, the hard part of online learning is “how easy it is to get distracted.”

APUSH teacher Mrs. Secor said she hopes this “makes [students] more aware of how much school means to them. So often we have students that seem to hate going to school, but they are realizing that school might not be so bad.”

Photo Credit: Lauren Mitchell

Students are now realizing how much they take the in-class schooling for granted. “We don’t appreciate school or our teachers enough,” senior Lily Osborne said. Looking on the bright side, she added that “seeing teachers in such a casual setting I think brings us together as a school a lot more.”

One thing that have been taken for granted for Brooke Malnar, a junior at Agua Fria, includes how online schooling “makes the actual learning a little more difficult because there isn’t a teacher two feet away from you to answer questions.” 

“This whole online school thing is great and all, but I want to go back to school so that I can ask my teachers questions face to face instead of having to email them or go on some FaceTime thing, it’s not the same,” Christina Mayfield, a senior, said. 

Most questions can best be answered in person with better explanations. Students are seemingly more comfortable with a face-to-face interaction with teachers rather than an online presence which lacks comfortability. Obviously, at this time, this is not an option. 

Teachers are no different, missing seeing their students every day. This entire switch to online “has helped me appreciate the interactions with students I take for granted, and has made me love my job even more,” Ms. Johnson, the AP Literature teacher, said. 

Another thing taken for granted is the interactions at school. “It’s made me realize how much I enjoy going to school and interacting with my peers everyday,” Malnar said. “Not being able to see the same amount of people I see on a normal basis has made me feel really isolated.”

Isolation. Social distancing means increasing the space between people physically, and even with all this technology connecting students through texting, social media and even face-to-face calls, students are still left feeling alone in this time of distance. 

This has been a major concern to teachers and the district as they send out constant reminders to “reach out” and “to take care of ourselves emotionally.” Counselors can be contacted from 9-2, Monday through Friday. 

The counselors are just one example of the many Agua Fria faculty who are working their hardest in this pandemic to continue to serve the students at home with the best education possible and still caring for their students. 

Teachers have taken this challenge, tech-savvy or not, and have utilized their resources to create lectures or live sessions, as well as Q&A times. This whole learning curve has had its struggles, and teachers have kept strong throughout it by adapting to these changes. 

For a lot of teachers, they had yet to use sites like Zoom or Google Meets, so for those tech-savvy teachers like Mr. Boothman, “This hasn’t been too difficult,” but for others it’s been tougher to adjust. But they are making it work! 

“This ‘old lady’ is catching on pretty well. I am learning new video chat platforms and such pretty quickly,” said Mrs. Leon. 

Sharing her struggles, Johnson said, “There was one session that didn’t get recorded, and another lesson a student had to teach me how to share. It is a time for all of us to be patient.”

There is much more behind the scenes than the students know. This isn’t a struggle that only the students are bearing, but the entire community of Agua Fria. This was unexpected on all parts. No teacher or student could have predicted the effect this virus would have on Agua Fria. 

The school and district have done well in organizing such an emergent platform of teaching for students during this pandemic, whereas some other schools may have not been as lucky. 

Yes, this has been a hard transition. Yes, it isn’t perfect. It’s affecting the students and teachers in more ways than one. The struggles that they face are unique to them and can be challenging, but as a community we hope to come together to overcome these learning curves.

“I really feel that we as a school community have come together to get through this, and that’s a positive, supportive feeling that I’ll carry with me even once all this is done,” Boothman said. 

The effects of this pandemic have been felt worldwide, around the nation, all across the Valley and especially here at Agua Fria. This virus may affect how students learn and their communication with teachers, but it won’t stop them from getting the education they deserve.